Chaves taking the Giro d'Italia one day at a time

Orica-GreenEdge rider avoids undue pressure in second Italian Grand Tour

Despite his promising start to his first assault on the GC in the Giro d'Italia, Colombian Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) remains cautious.

"Day by day," the 26-year-old repeatedly says when interviewed by a small group of reporters at the stage 5 start in Praia a Mare. "Stage by stage and day by day."

Day by day, week by week or however you want to look at it, Chaves is not doing badly at all. After four stages, including one very tough finale on stage 4 (where he took ninth) and a solid, if not amazing, opening time trial, the Colombian is currently lying tenth overall, 37 seconds down on race leader Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin).

Chaves knows he may have much to live up to given Orica-GreenEdge's track record in the Giro d'Italia. Furthemore, after what was arguably their most successful Classics season to date, expectations are high that the Australian squad can shine very brightly in the Giro d'Italia as well. Last year Orica-GreenEdge took the opening team time trial and a stage with Michael Matthews, as well as leading the race for four stages in the first week. Overall, they have taken six stage wins and had 11 days in the pink jersey, and Chaves, too, was the race's Best Young Rider for one day.

Chaves ended up out of the GC running in the 2015 Giro, sliding to 55th in Milan. However, the Vuelta a España was another story altogether, with fifth place in Madrid, a spell in the lead after he and Tom Dumoulin spent much of the first week fighting for the top spot overall, and two stage wins to boot. He then went on to take eighth in the Il Lombardia as well as the overall in the Abu Dhabi Tour.

This May in another RCS-organised race like Abu Dhabi but on more familiar terrain in Italy whilst Caleb Ewan is on the hunt for stage wins, the young Colombian is battling for the general classification. "I'm doing well, I like the hotter, more humid weather we've got here and I hope it's going to continue like that."

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After an unremarkable first part of the season which started in the Classic Sud Ardeche one-day race late in February, after taking 48th in the Volta a Catalunya, accompanied by a team coach, Chaves spent four weeks training at home in Colombia. "We trained very hard but went well."

On to the Giro, his first big target of the 2016 season and a solid 33rd place in the opening time trial, Caves commented on the technical and hilly stage 4. "Stage 4 wasn't at all straightforward, there was a very difficult last 40 kilometres, and I'm pleased I've got through it well. We were initially expecting a bunch sprint, but after they changed the route those last climbs made it much more difficult."

"I'm not looking too far ahead, simply getting through it on the day by day. Stage by stage."

As for the Giro d'Italia overall, Chaves' aim is, like the team, "to be competitive throughout the three weeks. If I achieve that, I'll be happy. Another objective will be with Caleb, going for the bunch sprints."

The structure of Orica's 2016 Giro team, therefore, is a very familiar one to Chaves, given he and Ewan jointly shared responsibilities in the Vuelta a España, where Ewan took a bunch sprint stage in the first week.

"Although that was in 2015 and we're now in 2016," he says, "we have to turn the page and look at what we can do here."

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